#MediaMonday – George Zeliff
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Arizona in 2021 after graduating from the University of Georgia. I enjoy the dry heat, but the summers are no joke in either state.
How did you get your start in writing? Tell us your story!
I took a longer path than most and didn’t know I was passionate about writing until later in college. I played the sousaphone in the UGA marching band and got to march in the Rose Bowl Parade and play in a National Championship game my freshman year in 2017. I fell in love with on-field access and switched majors to journalism with a focus on sports media after that.
I covered high school sports for the Oconee Enterprise my senior year from 2020-21. I wanted a change of scenery after the pandemic and sent applications to newspapers around the country. I got my start with the Fountain Hills Times in 2021 as a schools and sports reporter and became a schools and sports editor shortly after the Times was acquired by Independent Newsmedia in 2023.
Tell us about your outlet and beat. What types of pitches are you looking for?
I cover Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley for the Independent. With Fountain Hills, I cover everything from school board meetings to teacher features. I like to highlight the achievements of students and teachers to their local community, and that ranges from military and athletic scholarships to community events, and highly active community members.
I cover Fountain Hills High School varsity sports weekly and write an athlete of the month story for a student who is excelling in their sport. I also cover community sports, like pickleball and frisbee golf.
I write feature stories for Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, so I’m always looking for unique and personal stories from the local communities. Schools is a broad umbrella for anything education related, like library programs or school awards. I don’t cover weekly sports in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, so I appreciate pitches from community members about outstanding players and coaches, and other health and active living story ideas.
What are your favorite stories to work on?
I’m a southerner, so football will always be my favorite sport to cover. Although, my favorite type of story is scholarship stories, because I get to highlight an athlete/student’s entire journey up to this point in their life.
What are some of your hobbies?
I play video games and like that it keeps me connected to my friends back home. I also like playing basketball, even if I’m the only one on the court. I also have a cat that keeps me company at home.
Favorite movie? TV show? Book?
I was only nine years old when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started with Iron Man, so I’ve always liked superhero stories. I really like some of the newer shows that subvert the expectations of your typical hero, like Invincible and The Boys.
Do you have any favorite local spots?
My girlfriend went to GCU and has been in Arizona a few more years than me. She often shows me a new spot that I never would’ve found on my own, and I enjoy the new discoveries each time.
What is the best way to reach you?
The best way to reach me is by email at email@example.com.